Video and transcribe available below

Understanding Body Gestures and Body Language

Introduction: Understanding body gestures

One of the best ways to improve your communication skill is by understanding body gestures. 

A great question that comes up around this topic that people ask me is:

“Dr Ro, what are some of the key body gestures I need to be aware of, but also that I can use when I’m presenting to my audiences, a meeting or if I sit down with someone and I want to grab their attention (and/or) communicate more effectively…

Talk to me about body gestures.”

The answer always comes back to understanding body gestures by using body language.

Now, this again is a huge subject. For those of you that have been through any of my Communicating With Impact Programmes, you will be aware that a big part of communication is actually understanding three things:

  • Our own body language
  • How we communicate with others
  • And how we read people as well

For the purpose of this actionable blog, I want to simplify it. 

So in essence, you can use your body gestures to focus somebody down when you’re communicating with them. Let’s look at the best four ways to do this.

Understanding body gesture number one: Use your hands

So without going into a lot of detail, we have a parasympathetic nervous system, but we also have a system that responds to what’s going on around us.

Often what happens when we are communicating is a part of our system is trying to protect us. 

Over the years, through evolution, one of the things that human beings look at is the hands.

So depending on the position of our hands – depends on how we are are perceived. For example if you have been with somebody who is quite aggressive their hands can come towards you. Whereas if somebody’s got their hands behind their back their body gesture has a much more humbling impact. 

It goes back to the handshake where people would say, I haven’t got a weapon in my hand, so let’s shake hands (to prove this peaceful intention).

Which tells us that hands can give tell-tale signs.

When somebody’s nervous I can read their face and body. In addition to this, one of the things I teach them to look at is their hands because if their hands are in synchronicity with the words they’re saying, they can come across as confident and that will be reflected in their hands. 

But often people’s hands will actually do something different to what their mouth is saying and what their words are saying.

For example, their hands might be twitching.

They may say they’re confident but they’re not as their hands are giving clues as to their lack of confidence.

If we use our hands effectively as a communicator, our hands become like wands.

Dr Rohan Weerasinghe

When I talk about the different archetypes in my communication system one of the archetypes is a magician.

I can actually demonstrate to people that if you use your hands in a certain way you communicate one, two, three, four points, when you’re talking to somebody you can anchor their understanding of what you’re saying to a place in the air just by using your hands (watch the video at the top of the page for a demonstration of this). 

Number two: Our eyes. 

Understanding the roles the eyes play is vital when you’re communicating with somebody.

Understanding body gestures
The eyes are vital to understand if you want to improve your communication skill.

I look for this a lot when I’m talking to somebody when I’m training someone to be more effective in:

  • Business
  • Pitching a product
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring

They want guidance on how to get their message across with impact in a short space of time to be more effective.

A lot of it comes down to the intensity and the intention coming through your eyes. 

For example, when you’re watching someone you’re communicating with – if they’re not with you, they are going into a glazed state. But regardless of this, you’ve got to maintain your level of intention in your eyes. When teaching my communication system, I will share the best way to get someone to snap out of a glazed state.

At this stage, one tip is: Even if you occasionally look away and then bring it back and look straight into the eyes of the person you’re communicating with so that they can re-feel the intention and intensity.

Understanding Body Gestures number three: Your stance 

This is crucial. Your overall stance is key to how others perceive you. Again like all the other sections, this is a big area of focus. Instead let’s look at your feet!

When I’m teaching people to speak in front of an audience one of the things I look at is their feet because, believe it or not, feet can twitch.

Just like Elvis Presley. But Elvis did a very specific thing with his body on his hips and that was a whole sexual thing (I won’t get into that in this post). 

I’m talking about when somebody is rocking around a bit nervous, trying to get a message across but they’re not really there. 

Instead I want you to embody the following mantra:

I move around but each move is with purpose.

Moving with Purpose

Even when I finish a sentence I’m anchoring/connecting that into my:

  • Body
  • Stance
  • Words
  • Physiology
  • And tone

Everything about my energy is positioned down through this core.

It’s something I powerfully believe that if you can anchor that and the intention together with your body language – people really engage with what you’re saying. 

Number four: Your head 

This is important when it comes to understanding body gestures.

You might not believe it but just a slight of your head in turn changes your energy. By moving your head backwards it brings a lightness to your energy.

(Watch the video for a quick demo of head gesture examples).

Alternatively, just turning slightly sideways and then leaning into the camera has a different impact.

So what we want to avoid is keeping a still head. Because if we just stood still all the time, regardless of what we say, our tonality would be flat. But by moving your head slightly, brings your communication to life. 

In summary

Ultimately, there are so many different body gestures. 

You know have four core areas to just play with it. Have some fun and see how people respond to you.

You’ll pick up on adding this together with other elements from my system before you know it – you’ll create a really good impact with any communication you enter. 

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